1. Tread waters very carefully. Sure, the water levels may be way lower than its original two-floor depth, but that doesn't exactly mean that shallower waters are safe. Swiftly-moving shallow water can also be deadly because the current may cause you to drift, lose your step if you're walking, or even sweep your car away if you're braving to drive by. Sometimes, even shallow standing water can be dangerous especially after a huge storm because of the debris that may have settled at the bottom. Unless utterly necessarily, seek stable and higher ground and wait for the water to fully subside before making your way through it. "Don't attempt to walk along streets where water is above the knees," says Josefina Timoteo of the National Disaster Coordinating Council. "There may be open man holes."
2. Air your house when reentering for the first time. If your house has been closed up for a day to several days, enter, open the windows, leave, and only reenter after 30 minutes to one hour.
3. Return home during the daytime. If it is finally safe, schedule your homecoming during the day so that you don't have to use any lights. Be ready with battery-powered flashlights and lamps. And, refrain from having to use candles and gas lanterns. The flood may have damaged your house's gas line and outright flames may case a fire.
4. Be wary of gases and sparks. If you smell a gas leak, make sure to turn off your house's main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately. Do not attempt to turn on any of your house's light switches to avoid sparks. And, only return to the house when you are fully certain that it is safe.
5. Watch out for wires. Most likely, a flood does extreme damage to your house's electrical system. "Be alert for broken wires," especially those wet or loose in water, warns Timoteo. If you can reach it, shut down your electrical system at the circuit breaker. And, if you smell fire but see no visible flame, this may indicate an electrical short and you should move about carefully.
6. Wait for all electrical appliances to fully dry before use. Unless you are using water-proof equipment, make sure your appliances are aired and fully dry before you attempt to return them to service. Wet appliances can cause a short that may eventually lead to fire. If you can, wait for a certified electrician to check the items first before attempting to use them.
7. Beware of molds. If your home has been closed up and flooded for days, expect there to be molds, they can develop easily, even within 24 to 48 hours. Molds are especially hazardous to people with asthma, allergies, and other breathing conditions. They may cause stuffy noses, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. For those with weak immune systems, they may even cause lung infections. Air out your house as much as possible. Clean all wet surfaces with water and detergent, and disinfect with bleach mixed with water to avoid the formation of mold. Discard all porous materials that you cannot fully dry or clean.
8. Keep healthy. Have all injuries checked after exposure to flood water. If you suffered a puncture wound or cut, it may have gotten contaminated with feces, soil, or bacteria in flood water. Employ proper clean up and have a doctor check it out when possible. You might even require a tetanus shot. The rates of diseases that were already present before a flood may increase because of decreased sanitation after it. Keep your immune system up with vitamins and ample rest.
9. Caution when restarting your car. Most cars submerged in water may be rendered useless due to damages. Even cars, which were partly submerged, may have suffered damages as well. Car batteries may still contain an electrical charge and should be removed with extreme caution by using insulated gloves. Avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from a damaged car battery.
10. Learn to let go. Aside from the trauma brought on by flash floods, the loss of possessions may be depressing for some. Learn to let go. What is important is that you are well and safe. And, muster the strength to hurdle this obstacle and rebuild your life once again.
SOURCES: Center For Disease Control And Prevention and Cosmo-exclusive interviews with the National Disaster Coordinating Council
If you have any other tips to help your fellow Cosmo chicks recover from this tragedy, please feel free to leave your suggestions and encouragements below.